Beyond a PhD: Dr Ben Masheder speaks about his journey from a UK PhD in Chemistry to postdoc in Japan, SME scientist in Wales, and Innovation Specialist at Business West in Bristol.

On Friday, 29 December 2019, Dr Ben Masheder gave a hugely inspiring talk to the CDT in Metamaterials PhD students on his career progression since he left University with a PhD in Chemistry. He highlighted how not knowing what’s next and just being a nice person by sharing a picture with a research visitor from Japan can lead to an opportunity being dropped on your door step when you most need it.

His experience as a postdoc in Japan was followed by a time of looking for a new opportunity to pay the bills once he moved back to the UK. He outlined how making yourself useful, applying your research skills and adaptability in other areas can lead to quite some CV building and satisfying progress to materials scientists and innovation specialist.

The time Ben has spent working at Sellafield, the National Nuclear Lab, AIST in Japan, and DST Innovations from 2014-2019 brough tabout a huge range of expertise way beyond his PhD topic: from working on controlling formation of solids in legacy nuclear waste tanks, to robust omniphobic dewettable surfaces for metal part protection in machines and engine, and on to photovoltaics, printed batteries/supercapacitors, energy harvesting, wearable electronics, IoT devices, augmented reality, lighting, displays, laser label marking, and flexible electronics.

He enabled his former employer to better understand and apply for funding schemes, and utilised this knowledge sucessfully when it became time to prioritise family time over commuting time: Ben recently started a postion as Innovation Specialist at Business West in Bristol, a not-for-profit company which offers business support to start-up and growing businesses in the West of England.

Ben spoke in a very engaging and approachable way about the bends his career took, and the reasons for his decisions.

We would like to say thanks to Ben for being such a great role model to PhD students who will face the same “What next?” challenge soon enough, and proving that no matter what you do, if you’re open-minded, if you apply yourself and utilise the knoweldge and experience you’ve got, you will find your way, step by step.

Good luck in your new role, Ben. We look forward to engaging further with Business West!

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